Perceived Levels of Stress and Physical Activity in College Students

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kelly Helm


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


The purpose of this study was to investigate how college students perceive their stress levels before and after they participate in a physical activity (PA). A survey regarding perceived stress and PA was filled out by 101 students (M=51, F=50) at a private Midwestern University. The survey asked respondents to rank their perceived stress level on a 1 to 5 scale (1 being “low” and 5 being “high”) prior to participating in a PA. The respondents were asked to circle a PA in which they participated. If the respondent did not participate they did not circle a PA. The respondents then were asked how they perceived their stress level after participating. The researcher gathered information from all four classifications of undergraduate students (Freshman=39, Sophomore=32, Junior=19, Senior=11). Descriptive statistics showed that mean perceived stress pre-PA scores were highest among sophomores (M=4.1) followed by juniors (M=3.5), freshman (M=3.1) and seniors (M=2.8). The highest percent decrease in perceived stress post-PA was also shown in sophomores (30.20%, M=2.2) followed by seniors (24.4%, M=1.7), juniors (22.8%, M=2.2), and freshman (21.6%, M=2.0). A mean percent decrease in perceived stress after participating in PA (24.75%) was shown among all college students surveyed. As a result, descriptive statistics showed that students do perceive a lower stress level after participating in a PA than prior to participating in a PA. The researcher concluded that college students may benefit from participating in PA to reduce perceived stress.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Amanda Riley is an exercise science major with a human biology minor. Her future goals include pursuing a career in sport and medical massage therapy.

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